A burial place is returned to the Shinnecocks


A view of the Sugar Loaf Cemetery, which is surrendered to the Shinnecock Nation.

The Sugar Loaf, a sacred burial site for the Shinnecock Indian Nation, has been returned to the tribe. Late last month, the Shinnecock Nation Graves Protection Warrior Society announced that the 4.5-acre land in Shinnecock Hills had been purchased for $ 5.6 million with help from the Peconic Land Trust.

A 7,000 square foot house stands on the site, but it will be demolished. The Southampton Town Community Preservation Fund purchased the development rights to protect the land once and for all at a cost of $ 5.3 million. Roger Waters of Pink Floyd, who lives in Bridgehampton and is a Native American rights activist, aided the Shinnecocks in their cause with a donation of several hundred thousand dollars.

The decision to return the land to the Shinnecocks was long in coming. In September 2020, the City of Southampton Board of Directors unanimously voted in favor of the Graves Protection Act and a moratorium on the construction of Shinnecock Hills. The Tomb Protection Act established procedures if human remains were to be found during construction, according to a previous press release from the city, and the six-month moratorium required an archaeological examination to be carried out before any construction. Housing or excavation does not begin in areas that include Fort Hill and Sugar Loaf in Shinnecock Hills, west to Peconic Road, which runs from North Road south to Shinnecock Bay.

Passing legislation to ensure human remains are not disturbed was just one step in the victory of the Shinnecocks.

Southampton City Supervisor Jay Schneiderman said returning land to the tribe does not mend any wounds, but helps heal a historic wound. “Sugar Loaf Hill is a sacred site for the indigenous peoples of our region. This is where they buried their ancestors for generations. Restoring the sanctity of this burial site and returning it to the Shinnecock people was just the right thing to do, ”he said. noted.

Shane Weeks of the Shinnecocks, a founding member of the Tribe Graves Protection Society, called the acquisition “the first of its kind in several hundred years between the city of Southampton and the Shinnecock Nation. The event marks a incredible achievement between our communities and is a much needed healing effort that needs to take place. A glimpse of what the future might look like, I hope. “

Mr Weeks said the next step is to “work with the Peconic Land Trust to dismantle the house so that we can return the summit of Sugar Loaf Hill to its natural state forever.” We will then begin the process of transferring title to the property to be under the control of the Shinnecock Nation. “

The Sugar Loaf territory is just one example of the larger problem of culturally sensitive sites being developed, an issue Mr. Weeks hopes will be addressed through further research.

“There are several well-known sites around the city of Southampton and on Long Island in general,” he said. “The extraordinary members of the Shinnecock Nation Graves Protection Warrior Society have worked diligently with the city’s community preservation fund, the Peconic Land Trust and others to preserve developed and underdeveloped lands in culturally sensitive areas. Appreciate the CPF’s recognition of our case and putting the Shinnecock Hills on their list of priority properties to be acquired for preservation. “

The town is planning a nature trail to Sugar Loaf Mountain, where hikers can admire the view of Shinnecock Bay.

A house on the Pain de Sucre property will be demolished.

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